CubeSat Propulsion Systems
Satellites come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny chips the size of a thumbnail to huge ones like the International Space Station. CubeSats are a class of small satellites about the size of a milk carton. This particular size is meant to lower the cost of developing and launching the satellites, making it more feasible for universities and private companies to launch satellites into space. CubeSats have been around since the early 2000s, and dozens have been launched by universities as well as several companies. While their missions have been varied, they all have one thing in common: they have no propulsion system, and therefore stayed only a few hundred kilometers from Earth’s surface.
Here at the Space Systems Design Studio, we are aiming to change that. Our CubeSat propulsion project focuses on a water electrolysis propulsion system that takes advantage of the small size and mass of a CubeSat to create a simple, elegant, and effective method of propelling small spacecraft. Conforming to the CubeSat standards makes the system safe for development and integration in a research/university environment as well as less expensive to launch than a non-standard satellite. This page describes the details of the system and how it operates.
Propulsion systems can fundamentally change the way CubeSats are used, making new and exciting missions possible in both low-Earth orbit and beyond. Our goal is to transform CubeSats into low-cost tools for the private exploration of space.